Category Archives: October 1917

All diary entries written in October 1917.

22 October 1917; Monday

Up the town part of the day. At the mill1 in the afternoon and stayed in and played2 at night.

Willie Whittaker3 killed in action.


  1. “The mill”: Hendon Paper Mill, where ALL had been employed as a clerk before volunteering to join the RAMC. See also Sunderland map

  2. “Played” without a direct object generally means “played the piano” or according to context “-­ the organ”. 

  3. The entries from 18 to 29 October are in ink, but the note about Willie Whittaker (of the Chapel family in Sunderland) was added in pencil, obviously later. The diary records that ALL heard of W.’s death only on 8 November (when he was back in France), in a letter from Ernie; presumably W. Whittaker senior (27 October) did not yet know. Among the addresses at the back of the 1917 diary is “Cadet W G Whittaker, 24837, . . 15th Artistes [sic] Rifles O C B, Giden Hall, Romford, Essex”; “Cadet” means “officer-in-training” and O C B is probably Officer Cadet Branch or Base. This appears to mean that W. had consented to become an infantry officer. It is well known that junior infantry officers had by far the highest casualty rate of any rank in WW1. ALL (2 November 1915) says W. joined the 13th [Battalion of the] Yorkshire Regt. where he attained the rank of Serjeant. Lives of the First World War indicates that he subsequently joined the Northumberland Fusiliers, rising to Second Lieutenant by the time of his death. See also William Gaylard Whittaker at Lives of the First World War. 

20 October 1917; Saturday

Up pretty well all night. Got breakfast about 7 o’clock. Went down to boat and moved off from the quay about 9.20. Arrived about midday at Folkestone and London at 4.30. Got 5.30 express and arrived home1 shortly after midnight. Found Joe and Father waiting for me.


  1. “Home” was 47 Eldon Street since 11 February 1915. The map shows ALL’s journey from Boulogne (A) to home (D) via Folkestone (B) and London (C). 

19 October 1917; Friday

Left Kemmel with Clifford† at about 10 o’clock and arrived at Bailleul about 11.30. Had dinner and reported at the station. Train started about 1.40. Weary Journey. Arrived at Boulogne1 about 11.30 and went into rest billets.


  1. This journey marks the beginning of ALL’s only period of home leave during his service in France. The map shows this stage of ALL’s journey home, from Kemmel (A) to Boulogne (C) via Bailleul (B). 

14 October 1917; Sunday

Up about 7.30. Finished fatigues early in the afternoon. Went to Dranoutre1 Y M service at night with Harvey and Corporal Mather. Very good service. Met some old Sheffield men there. There in the 917th Ambulance and Williams2 is sergeant-major.


  1. Dranoutre: Flemish Dranouter (B), mid-way between Bailleul and Kemmel (A), Michelin map square I3. 

  2. Williams: Possibly, though not certainly, the same Williams as is mentioned for the first time in the diary entry for ALL’s very first day in Sheffield in 1915.

    “Other two recruits with me. A Scotsman and a Sunderland lad called Williams … Went into town at night with Williams.”

    Williams is mentioned on only one further occasion during ALL’s time in Sheffield, 12 August 1915